It’s that time again, another CMX Summit is coming! It’s a yearly gathering of community builders and professionals of all levels that meet to connect and learn from each other. To me, it’s one the can’t miss events of the year and certainly most of you must agree, as the tickets are sold out. We are also sponsors once again for what is surely to be an amazing get together in Redwood City next week (September 5th & 6th).
This will be my fourth CMX Summit and I'm also a seasoned conference veteran. With this in mind, I thought I would share my best tips to ensure you get the most out of CMX Summit. Of course, I work at a vendor, but like you, I manage a community as well -- and that is how I attend the event. So without further ado, here are my best tips to ensure you have an amazing experience:
1. Check the Agenda & Build a Game Plan
It can be easy to get overwhelmed at an event; so much to do, to see and to hear. I like to reduce stress by mapping out the must see or hear content and setting objectives. Mine is to learn and share ideas with people launching online communities from scratch. To help with planning,CMX has just posted the final agenda here. Take note, day two features overlapping talks, so you will want to plan ahead. However, don’t stress, having a ticket means you get access to the content afterwards.
2. Connect with Other Attendees Before
It’s still not too late to connect before the event. Here’s also a funny secret most people don’t realize: lots of community managers do well behind the computer screen, but in real life, they can be introverts. I am more towards the extrovert side of things (from what people tell me), but like you I am always nervous to put myself out there.
One low stress way, I have found that works (and plays to my strength) is to start to build connections before the event. There is a closed Facebook group for attendees. Honestly, it’s the best place to start planning your trip. I already made new friends, with someone arriving at the airport at the same time. For those who may wish to lurk there is also the Twitter list of attendees. It’s a great way to follow those people who will be there and maybe even some good conversation starters when you meet people in real life.
3. End of Day Reflection & Connection
This is best with a multi-day event. I like to spend time (usually in the evening - but sometimes it will be early morning) reflecting on the previous day. I like to consider what I learnt, key takeaways and also connect/reach out to the people I met the previous day. This also gives me a chance to follow-up on those ideas I may want to chat with other attendees about the next day, or to help me have better focus for the next day. I also found by doing the connecting right away it does not get lost in the post conference workload.
Oh one more thing. I write down my ideas, thought or topics that interest me right away at the event. Your creative juices will be flowing by being around like minded professionals. Waiting to write this stuff down later is a sure way to forget. Don’t make that mistake. I’ve lost more ideas than I am willing to admit because I did not learn to do this sooner.
4. Be Open to Randomness
Yes, I know I said to plan, but also at the same time, the best experiences I’ve had at any Summit came from participating in the unplanned. There will be tons of opportunities to explore the city and make new friends. Say yes when the opportunity presents itself. Some of my deepest friendships have come from people at the CMX Summit and being open to randomness.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Unlike other conferences, you are among fellow community managers. We all know how draining it can be to be “on” all the time. Pace yourself. Everyone will respect that you are not a robot and understand where you are coming from. It's okay to find a space to get some alone time -and get away from the bustle of the conference. I am so thankful to be at one of the few conferences, where attendees understand that this kind of self-care is so important.
There you have it! Hopefully the tips help you have a great CMX Summit! If you have any tips please share them in the comments!
Now before you go, I have one more (small) ask. If you are reading this, are going to CMX and don’t know me - be assured I want to meet you (old friends I want to see you too). It’s so easy! I’ll be the one in the blue Vanilla hoodie waiting to meet you. If you see me, please just say “hi”. I promise to say hi back with a smile. Heck we may even become friends IRL. If you’re not into the whole real life thing, just follow me on Twitter here. If you’re not going, follow me anyway so you don’t suffer from FOMO - I’ll be tweeting at the event and maybe we can then connect in real life at the next summit.
Safe travels everyone! See you in Redwood City :)